In most cases, a spinal cord injury is permanent and irreversible. It is a traumatic and devastating experience for the individual, their family, and friends and changes their lives forever. Spinal cord injury can happen to anyone at any time.
What is spinal cord injury?
Spinal cord injury occurs if pressure is applied to the spinal cord, and/or the blood and oxygen supply to the cord is cut off because the vertebrae of the spine, enclosing the spinal cord, are displaced or injured.
The messages to and from the brain cannot get through a spinal cord damaged by crushing, bruising or severing. Generally, the extent and areas of paralysis are determined by the level and degree of injury to the spinal cord.
The diagram illustrates the various levels of the spine and the extent of paralysis when the spinal cord is injured at a certain level.
The damage to the spinal cord may be complete or incomplete, depending on the degree of injury to the nerve fibers.
A ‘complete’ spinal cord injury means there is a complete loss of movement and feeling below the level of the injury. Damage has occurred to the whole spinal cord and no messages are getting past the area of damage. An ‘incomplete’ spinal cord injury means there are some movement and feeling below the level of the injury. This means some messages are getting through because only part of the spinal cord has been damaged.
Facts and statistics
- While traditionally most spinal cord injuries happen to people under the age of 40, there are a growing number of older people sustaining spinal injuries.
- Men account for 80% of spinal cord injuries.
- Road trauma falls and water-related accidents are the main causes of traumatic spinal cord injuries.
- In 2012-13, 52% of spinal cord injuries resulted in quadriplegia.
Source: Princess Alexandra Hospital’s Spinal Injuries Unit 2012
According to the Spinal Cord Injury Network, more than 10,000 people in Australia have a spinal cord injury.
- The lifetime cost per incidence of paraplegia is estimated to be $5 million.
- The lifetime cost per incidence of quadriplegia is estimated to be $9.5 million.
- The total cost of spinal cord injury in Australia is estimated to be $2 billion annually.
Source: Access Economics 2009
When looking at the costs involved in long-term spinal cord injury you need to ask yourself about whether you can afford not to be insured if something was to occur?
We ensure that all of our client’s long-term financial health is protected with appropriate insurance coverage which in the case of spinal cord damage would be covered under most TPD, trauma and income protection policies.